That same day, more than a century ago, France organized the first modern Grand Prix on a public road circuit outside of Le Mans. The race is widely regarded as the first Grand Prix in history and France is credited with the origin of organized motor racing. The race was open to international competitors and was organized by the Automobile Club de France de la Sarthe. The term Grand Prix meant “Grand Prix” and referred to the cash prize of 45,000 French francs (the equivalent of 13 kg of gold) which was awarded to the winner of the race.
The race took place on a large 106 km circuit and on a dirt road in an anti-clockwise direction. The event started east of the small town in western France, Le Mans. According to the rules, a vehicle must not weigh more than 1000 kg, excluding headlights, fenders and upholstery. A sufficient amount of gasoline was supplied to drivers for fuel consumption – 30 liters per 100 km. The event took place from June 26 to 27 and a car had to complete six laps per day.
12 manufacturers participated in the event – nine of them were French (Clément-Bayard, Hotchkiss, Gobron-Brillié, Darracq, Vulpes, Brasier, Panhard, Grégoire, Lorraine-Dietrich and Renault), two Italians (FIAT and Itala ) and one from Germany (Mercedes). The race was won by a 13-liter Renault AK driven by Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz. Szisz changed his tire 19 times in this race. However, this was not a rare event in the competition. The second place on the list was reserved by Albert Clément in his Clément-Bayard. Felice Nazzaro in the FIAT 16.2L finished in third place.
After the conclusion of the event, the winner Renault established itself as a leader in the automotive industry. Renault’s share rose from 1600 in 1906 to 3000 in 1907 and 4600 in 1908.
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